OPERATOR MANUAL by olliegoblue27


									     OPERATOR MANUAL
             2007 - 2009

It is NDDOT’s policy that all employees have
the right to work in an environment free of
harassment. An employee may discontinue
service to a customer if the customer
subjects the employee to conduct, commu-
nication, or sexually explicit paraphernalia
which may interfere with the employee’s
work performance or create a hostile, intimi-
dating, or offensive work environment.
To the Motorcycle Operator:
This manual contains important information for those of you who wish to oper-
ate a motorcycle. You are urged to study this manual thoroughly. This manual
was developed by the National Public Services Research Institute with the
cooperation of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation under contract to the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
As a motorcyclist, you should remember that you will be traveling on the
streets and highways with a mixture of vehicles, most of which are larger than
your motorcycle. Statistics show that the chances of a cyclist being injured in a
motorcycle crash are far greater than any other type of vehicular crash. About
eight out of ten persons involved in motorcycle crashes receive injuries, of
which approximately 50 percent are head injuries.
As a cyclist in North Dakota, you are subject to the same rules of the road as
other motorists, as well as special laws for motorcycles, which are summarized
in this manual. Applicants who do not currently possess a North Dakota opera-
tor’s license should study this manual along with the North Dakota Class D op-
erator’s manual, both of which are available to individuals at any of the Drivers
License and Testing offices.
Driver’s License and Traffic Safety Division
ND Department of Transportation
608 East Boulevard Avenue
Bismarck, ND 58505-0700

Any person other than a nonresident student, a tourist, or a member of the
armed forces who has lived in this state for 90 consecutive days, shall be
deemed a resident of North Dakota for the purposes of driver licensing. You
may operate a vehicle with an operator’s license from another state for a period
of 60 days after you become a resident of North Dakota, then you must obtain a
North Dakota operator’s license.
When operating either a two- or three-wheeled motorcycle, North Dakota law
requires that you have in your possession a Class M permit or license. Driving
without the Class M permit or license will result in a $20 fine and a four point
assessment on your driving record.
Fourteen- and fifteen-year-old motorcycle operators may only operate motor-
cycles with a 250 cc engine or less.
Operators and passengers under the age of 18 must wear a safety helmet that
meets U.S. Department of Transportation standards. If the operator is required
to wear a helmet, then any passenger, regardless of age, must also wear a helmet.

Applying for a Class M License or Permit
Applications for an operator’s license or permit are made with the Drivers Li-
cense and Testing office in your area.
     Original applicants who do not have a valid North Dakota operators license
     must present proof of current name and date of birth. Out-of-state permits,
     licenses, and ID cards will not be accepted as proof of name and date of birth.
     Acceptable forms of identification are:
     - U.S. Birth Certificate (state certified; Government-issued: includes U.S.
     - Valid U.S. Passport.
     - U.S. Government-issued Consular Report of Birth Abroad. Certificate or
       FS 240 (seal required).
     - Valid Foreign Passport with an I-94 card or an I-551 stamp.
     - U.S. Active Duty/Retiree/Reservist Military ID Card or Common Access
     - U.S. Court Order containing the legal name and date of birth (Court seal
     - North Dakota state issued permit, license, or ID card.
     - The following Immigration documents (unexpired):
          I-551 Resident Alien or Permanent Resident Card
          I-688 Temporary Resident Identification Card

        I-688B, I-766 Employment Authorization Card
        N560 Certificate of Citizenship
        N550 Certificate of Naturalization
        I-94 card stamped Refugee or Asylee
  Only original documents and certified copies will be accepted. No photo-
  copies. A court order or government issued marriage certificate is required
  for a name change. Several documents may be necessary in the event there
  has been more than one name change since birth.
  You will not be allowed to test without proper identification.
  Applicants born in North Dakota who do not have the required birth certifi-
  cate may obtain a copy by sending $7 and general birth information to Vital
  Records, North Dakota Department of Health, 600 East Boulevard Avenue,
  Bismarck, North Dakota 58505-0200.
• All applications for permit, license, or identification card must contain the
  individual’s social security number (NDCC 39-06-07 and NDCC
• All applicants must pass an eyesight test, testing your ability to see as it ap-
  plies to driving.
• All applicants who do NOT present a valid Class A, B, C, or D North Dakota
  operator’s license will be required to pass the Class D Rules of the Road writ-
  ten test prior to the Class M written examination.
• You may NOT operate a motorcycle until you receive the Class M permit,
  then you must pass an on-cycle skill test prior to a Class M license being is-
  sued. The on-cycle skill test may be waived upon successful completion of a
  motorcycle safety course approved by the director.
• Anyone operating a motorcycle with a learner’s permit may not drive after
  dark and shall not carry passengers.
• State statutes require a $5 fee for each written test and a $5 fee for each road/
  skill test.

North Dakota Drivers License and Testing Locations
To obtain a North Dakota operator’s license, you must visit one of the Drivers
License and Testing offices. No appointment is needed for the written test. Arrive
no later than one hour prior to noon and no later than one hour prior to closing.
TTY information number: 328-4156
For skill test appointments and general license information, call your respec-
tive Drivers License and Testing office. Skill tests will not be conducted dur-
ing inclement weather. Call for cancellation information.
                               -1:00 p.m. except Bismarck, Minot, Grand
All sites are closed from 12:00-
Forks, and Fargo.
     Fargo 239-8940               Bismarck 328-2252                  Minot 857-7624
        Wahpeton                     Wishek                            Bottineau
        Lisbon                       Linton                            Rolla
     Jamestown 252-5596              Carson                            Rugby
        Valley City               Grand Forks 787-6540                 Harvey
        Oakes                        Langdon                         Williston 774-4358
     Dickinson 227-6550              Grafton                           Crosby
        Beulah                       Mayville                          Stanley
        Bowman                                                         Watford City
                                                                     Devils Lake 662-4814

Offices are closed on the following holidays:
New Years Day, January 1                        Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, third Monday in January
Presidents’ Day, third Monday in Feb.           Good Friday, the Friday preceding Easter Sunday
Memorial Day, the last Monday in May            Independence Day, July 4
Labor Day, the first Monday in September        Veteran’s Day, November 11
Thanksgiving Day, the fourth Thursday in Nov.   Christmas Eve, Dec. 24 (offices close at noon)
Christmas Day, December 25
If January 1st, July 4th, November 11th or December 25th falls on a Sunday,
the following Monday shall be the holiday. If these holidays fall on a Saturday,
the preceding Friday is the holiday.

If you are involved in a crash which results in the combined damage of $1,000
or more, or results in personal injury or death, you must immediately report it to
the local police, sheriff’s office, or State Highway Patrol.
No person shall operate a motor vehicle in the state of North Dakota without a
valid policy of liability insurance in effect, the name of the insurance policy
carrier, and the policy number must be furnished to a law enforcement officer
upon request. The minimum fine for operating an uninsured motor vehicle is
$150 and may result in a license suspension.
In any crash involving injury or damage, the operators must exchange the fol-
lowing information: operator’s name, address, and motor vehicle insurance
Any operator who hits an unattended vehicle must immediately locate and
notify the owner. If the owner cannot be found, the operator must leave a note at
a conspicuous place on the unattended vehicle. The note must list the opera-
tor’s name, address, and motor vehicle insurance company.

Cooperation With the Examiner
• The applicant must at all times cooperate with the examiners by following
  their instructions.
• License applicants must furnish their own vehicle for the on-cycle test.

• License applicants must submit their motorcycle to an equipment inspection
  at the time of the on-cycle test.
• Applicants who successfully pass the on-cycle skill test with a motorcycle
  that has an automatic transmission, will be restricted to operating a Class M
  vehicle so equipped.
• Applicants successfully completing the on-cycle test on a three-wheeled
  motorcycle will receive a Class M operator’s license restricted to the opera-
  tion of a three-wheeled motorcycle.
• If you fail any of the tests, you will not be allowed to retake the examination
  the same day.

Additional Requirement for Applicants 14 or 15 Years of Age
• To receive a Class M learner’s permit, the 14- or 15-year-old applicant must
  be enrolled in or have completed an approved motorcycle safety course.
• When applying for a learner’s permit, 14- or 15-year-old applicants must
  present to the examiner an enrollment certificate or a Motorcycle Safety
  Completion Certificate.
• These applicants must operate on the initial learner’s permit for at least two
  months prior to completing the on-cycle skill test for a Class M operator’s
• A Motorcycle Safety Completion Certificate must be presented at the time
  of the on-cycle skill test. If the applicant has held the initial learner’s permit
  for at least two months, the on-cycle skill test may be waived upon success-
  ful completion of a motorcycle safety course approved by the director.

A motorized bicycle is a two or three wheeled vehicle, no more than 32 inches
wide. It must also have:
• Maximum piston or rotor displacement of 49.98 (3.05 cubic inches) enab-
  ling a speed not to exceed 30 mph on a level surface.
• Foot pedals or footrests.
• An automatic drive system not requiring the use of a clutch.
• Motorized bicycles must display an assigned registration plate when oper-
  ated upon a public highway.

The operator of a motorized bicycle must be at least 14 years of age or older.
• You must have a valid operator’s license, a temporary permit, instruction
  permit, motorcycle permit, or motorized bicycle permit in your immediate
  possession when operating a motorized bicycle upon a public street or high-
  way within the state of North Dakota.
 • Operators under the age of 18 must wear a safety helmet that meets U.S.
   Department of Transportation standards.
 Application for a motorized bicycle permit is made with the Drivers License
 and Testing office in your area.
 • All applicants applying for an original motorized bicycle permit must pres-
   ent proof of current name and date of birth. Out-of-state permits, licenses,
   and ID cards will not be accepted as proof of name and date of birth. Accept-
   able forms of identification are:
   - U.S. Birth Certificate (state certified; Government-issued: includes U.S.
   - Valid U.S. Passport.
   - U.S. Government-issued Consular Report of Birth Abroad. Certificate
      or FS 240 (seal required).
   - Valid Foreign Passport with an I-94 card or an I-551 stamp.
   - U.S. Active Duty/Retiree/Reservist Military ID Card or Common Ac-
      cess Card.
   - U.S. Court Order containing the legal name and date of birth (Court seal
   - North Dakota state issued permit, license, or ID card.
   - The following Immigration and Naturalization documents (unexpired):
         I-551 Resident Alien or Permanent Resident Card
         I-688 Temporary Resident Identification Card
         I-688B, I-766 Employment Authorization Card
         N560 Certificate of Citizenship
         N550 Certificate of Naturalization
         I-94 card stamped Refugee or Asylee
   Only original documents and certified copies will be accepted. No photo-
   copies. A court order or government issued marriage certificate is required
   for a name change. Several documents may be necessary in the event there
   has been more than one name change since birth.
   You will not be allowed to test without proper identification.
 • Motorized bicycle applications must contain the individual’s social security
   number (NDCC 39-06-07).
 • Pass the Rules of the Road written test.
 • Pass a vision test, testing your ability to see as it applies to operating a mo-
   torized bicycle.
 • NO on-cycle skill test is required for a motorized bicycle permit.
 • There is a $5 written test fee required.

Operating a motorcycle safely in traffic requires special skills and knowledge.
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has made this manual available to help nov-
ice motorcyclists reduce their risk of having a crash. The manual conveys es-
sential safe-driving information and has been designed for use in licensing pro-
grams. While designed for the novice, all motorcyclists can benefit from the
information this manual contains.
The original Motorcycle Operator Manual was developed by the National Pub-
lic Services Research Institute (NPSRI) under contract to the National High-
way Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and within the terms of a cooper-
ative agreement between NHTSA and the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. The
manual and related tests were used in a multi-year study of improved motor-
cycle operator licensing procedures, conducted by the California Department
of Motor Vehicles under contract to NHTSA.
The purpose of this manual is to educate the reader to help avoid crashes while
safely operating a motorcycle. For this edition, the Motorcycle Safety Founda-
tion has updated and expanded the content of the original manual. These revi-
sions reflect:
• The latest findings of motorcycle-safety research.
• Comments and guidance provided by the motorcycling, licensing, and traf-
  fic-safety communities.
• Expanded alcohol and drug information.
In promoting improved licensing programs, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation
works closely with state licensing agencies. The Foundation has helped more
than half the states in the nation adopt the Motorcycle Operator Manual for use
in their licensing systems.
Improved licensing, along with high-quality motorcycle rider education and
increased public awareness, has the potential to reduce crashes. Staff at the
Foundation are available to assist state, private and governmental agencies in
efforts to improve motorcycle safety.

                                                                  Tim Buche
                                     President, Motorcycle Safety Foundation
  WEAR THE RIGHT GEAR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                          1
     The Helmet—Use and Selection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                            1
     Eye and Face Protection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                   2
     Clothing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .          3
  KNOW YOUR MOTORCYCLE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                                 4
     The Right Motorcycle for You . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                        4
     Borrowing and Lending . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                     4
     Get Familiar with the Motorcycle Controls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                               5
     Check the Motorcycle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                    6
  KNOW YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                                   7
   BASIC VEHICLE CONTROL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                            8
      Body Position . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .             8
      Shifting Gears . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .            9
      Braking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .         9
      Turning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .        10
   KEEPING YOUR DISTANCE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                           11
      Lane Positions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .             11
      Following and Being Followed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                         12
      Passing and Being Passed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                   14
      Lane Sharing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .             15
      Merging Cars . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .             16
      Cars Alongside . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .             16
   SEE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   17
   SIPDE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     18
   INTERSECTIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                 19
      Blind Intersections . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .              20
      Passing Parked Cars . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                21
      Parking at the Roadside . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                  21
   SEE AND BE SEEN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                 22
      Clothing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .         22
      Headlight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .          22
      Signals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .        23
      Brake Light . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .          23
      Mirrors and Head Checks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                    24
      Horn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .       25
      Riding at Night . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .            25
     CRASH AVOIDANCE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .               26
        Quick Stops . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .      26
        Swerving or Turning Quickly . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                27
        Cornering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    28
     HANDLING DANGEROUS SURFACES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                                 29
        Uneven Surfaces and Obstacles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                  29
        Slippery Surfaces . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .        30
        Tracks, Grooves, and Gratings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                31
     MECHANICAL PROBLEMS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                       32
        Tire Failure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   32
        Stuck Throttle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     32
        Wobble . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   32
        Chain Problems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .         33
        Engine Seizure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .       33
     ANIMALS AND FLYING OBJECTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                            34
     GETTING OFF THE ROAD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                    34
     CARRYING PASSENGERS AND CARGO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                                   35
        Equipment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .      35
        Instructing Passengers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .           35
        Riding with Passengers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .             36
        Carrying Loads . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .       36
     GROUP RIDING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .          37
        Keep the Group Small . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .             37
        Keep the Group Together . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .              37
        Keep Your Distance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .           37
   WHY THIS INFORMATION IS IMPORTANT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                                     39
   MOTORCYCLE OPERATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                          40
   ALCOHOL IN THE BODY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                     40
      Blood Alcohol Concentration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                  40
   ALCOHOL AND THE LAW . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                       42
      Consequences of Conviction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                   42
   MINIMIZE THE RISKS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                43
      Control Drinking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .           43
      Control Riding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .         43
   FATIGUE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     44
  KNOWLEDGE TEST . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                 45
  ON-CYCLE SKILL TEST . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                    46
  EQUIPMENT REQUIREMENTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                             47
What you do before you start a trip goes a long way toward determining wheth-
er or not you’ll get where you want to go safely. Before taking off on any trip, a
safe rider makes a point to:
• Wear the right gear.
• Become familiar with the motorcycle.
• Check the motorcycle equipment.
• Be a responsible rider.

When you ride, your gear is “right” if it protects you. In any crash, you have a
far better chance of avoiding serious injury if you wear:
• An approved helmet.
• Face or eye protection.
• Protective clothing.

The Helmet
Crashes are not rare events—particularly among untrained, beginning riders.
And one out of every five motorcycle crashes result in head or neck injuries.
Head injuries are just as severe as neck injuries—and far more common. Crash
analyses show that head and neck injuries account for a majority of serious and
fatal injuries to motorcyclists. Research also shows that, with few exceptions,
head and neck injuries are reduced by the proper wearing of an approved helmet.

Helmet Use
Some riders don’t wear helmets because they think helmets will limit their
view to the sides. Others wear helmets only on long trips or when riding at high
speeds. Here are some facts to consider:
• An approved helmet lets you see as far to the sides as necessary. A study of
  more than 900 motorcycle crashes, where 40% of the riders wore helmets,
  did not find even one case in which a helmet kept a rider from spotting dan-
• Most crashes happen on short trips (less than five miles long), just a few
  minutes after starting out.
• Most riders are riding slower than 30 mph when a crash occurs. At these
  speeds, helmets can cut both the number and the severity of head injuries by

No matter what the speed, helmeted riders are three times more likely to sur-
vive head injuries than those not wearing helmets at the time of the crash.

Helmet Selection
There are two primary types of helmets, providing two different levels of cov-
erage: three-quarter and full face.
Whichever style you choose, you can get the most protection by making sure
that the helmet:
• Meets U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and state standards. Hel-
  mets with labels from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or
  the Snell Memorial Foundation give you an added assurance of quality.
• Fits snugly, all the way around.
• Has no obvious defects such as cracks, loose padding or frayed straps.
Whatever helmet you decide on, keep it securely fastened on your head when
you ride. Otherwise, if you are involved in a crash, it’s likely to fly off your head
before it gets a chance to protect you.



Eye and Face Protection
A plastic shatter-resistant face shield can help protect your whole face in a
crash. It also protects you from wind, dust, dirt, rain, insects, and pebbles
thrown up from cars ahead. These problems are distracting and can be painful.
If you have to deal with them, you can’t devote your full attention to the road.
Goggles protect your eyes, though they won’t protect the rest of your face like a
face shield does. A windshield is not a substitute for a face shield or goggles.
Most windshields will not protect your eyes from the wind. Neither will eye-
glasses or sunglasses. Glasses won’t keep your eyes from watering, and they
might blow off when you turn your head while riding.

To be effective, eye or face shield protection must:
• Be free of scratches.
• Be made of shatter-proof material.
• Give a clear view to either side.
• Fasten securely, so it does not blow off.
• Permit air to pass through, to reduce fogging.
• Permit enough room for eyeglasses or sunglasses, if needed.
Tinted eye protection should not be worn at night or any other time when little
light is available.

The right clothing protects you in a crash.
Jacket and pants should cover arms and legs completely. They should fit snug-
ly enough to keep from flapping in the wind, yet loosely enough to move freely.
Leather offers the most protection, but heavy denim usually does an adequate
job at a reasonable price. Sturdy synthetic material allows a lot of protection as
well. Wear a jacket even in warm weather. Many are designed to protect without
getting you overheated, even on summer days.
Boots or shoes should be high and sturdy enough to cover your ankles and give
them support. Soles should be made of hard, durable material. Keep heels short
so they do not catch on rough surfaces. Tuck laces in so they won’t catch on
your motorcycle.
Gloves allow a better grip and help protect your hands in a crash. Your gloves
should be made of leather or heavy cloth.
In cold or wet weather, your clothes should keep you warm and dry, as well as
protect you from injury. You cannot control a motorcycle well if you are numb.
Riding for long periods in cold weather can cause severe chill and fatigue. A
winter jacket should resist wind and fit snugly at the neck, wrists, and waist.
Good-quality rain suits designed for motorcycle riding resist tearing apart or
ballooning up at high speeds.

             1. A plastic shatter-resistant face shield:
                A. Is not necessary if you have a windshield.
                B. Only protects your eyes.
                C. Helps protect your whole face.
                D. Does not protect your face as well as goggles.

There are plenty of things on the highway that can cause you trouble. Your mo-
torcycle should not be one of them. To make sure that your motorcycle won’t
let you down:
• Start with the right motorcycle for you.
• Be familiar with the motorcycle controls.
• Check the motorcycle before every ride.
• Keep it in safe riding condition between rides.
• Avoid add-ons and modifications that make your cycle harder to handle.

The Right Motorcycle For You
First, make sure your motorcycle is right for you. It should “fit” you. Your feet
should reach the ground while you are seated on the cycle.
At minimum, your street-legal cycle should have:
• Headlight, taillight, and brakelight.
• Front and rear brakes.
• Turn signals.
• Horn.
• Two mirrors.

Borrowing and Lending
Borrowers and lenders of motorcycles, beware. Crashes are fairly common
among beginning riders—especially in the first months of riding. Riding an
unfamiliar motorcycle adds to the problem. If you borrow a motorcycle, get
familiar with it in a controlled area. And if you lend your motorcycle to friends,
make sure they are licensed and know how to ride before allowing them out
into traffic.
No matter how experienced you may be, ride extra carefully on any motor-
cycle that’s new or unfamiliar to you. More that half of all crashes occur on
motorcycles ridden by the operator for less than six months.

Get Familiar With the Motorcycle Controls
Make sure you are completely familiar with the motorcycle before you take it
out on the street. This is particularly important if you are riding a borrowed
cycle. If you are going to use an unfamiliar motorcycle:
• Make all the checks you would on your own motorcycle.
• Find out where everything is, particularly the turn signals, horn, headlight
  switch, fuel-control valve, and engine cut-off switch. Find and operate these
  items without having to look for them.
• Know the gear pattern. Work the throttle, clutch, and brakes a few times be-
  fore you start riding. All controls react a little differently.
• Ride very cautiously. Accelerate gently, take turns more slowly, and leave
  extra room for stopping.

                                4           3


                   7                                             11

                       2                             5


      1.    Turn-Signal Switch              7.   Clutch Lever
      2.    Gear-Change Lever               8.   Engine Cut-Off Switch
      3.    Tachometer                      9.   Light Switch
      4.    Speedometer & Odometer         10.   Kick Starter
      5.    Rear Brake Pedal               11.   Front Brake Lever
      6.    Throttle                       12.   Horn Button

Check the Motorcycle
A motorcycle needs more frequent attention than a car. A minor technical fail-
ure in a car seldom leads to anything more than an inconvenience for the driver.
If something’s wrong with the motorcycle, you’ll want to find out about it be-
fore you get in traffic. Make a complete check of your motorcycle before every
Before mounting the motorcycle make the following checks:
• Tires—Check the air pressure.
• Fluids—Oil and fluid levels. At a minimum, check hydraulic fluids and
  coolants weekly. Look under the bike for signs of an oil or gas leak.
• Headlights and Taillight—Check them both. Test your dimmer to make
  sure both high and low beams are working.
• Turn Signals—Turn on both right and left turn signals. Make sure all four
  lights flash.
• Brake Light—Try both brake controls, and make sure each one turns on the
  brake light.
Once you have mounted the motorcycle, complete the following checks before
starting out:
• Clutch and Throttle—Make sure they work smoothly. The throttle should
  snap back when you let go.
• Mirrors—Clean and adjust both mirrors before starting. It’s difficult to ride
  with one hand while you try to adjust a mirror. Adjust each mirror so you
  can see the lane behind and as much as possible of the lane next to you.
• Brakes—Try the front and rear brake levers one at a time. Make sure each
  one feels firm and holds the motorcycle when the brake is fully applied.
• Horn—Try the horn. Make sure it works.
In addition to the checks you should make before every trip, check the follow-
ing items at least once a week: Wheels, cables, fasteners, and brakes.

             2. More than half of all crashes:
                A. Occur at speeds greater than 35 mph.
                B. Happen at night.
                C. Are caused by worn tires.
                D. Involve riders who have ridden their cycles
                   less than six months.

“Accident” implies an unforeseen event that occurs without anyone’s fault or
negligence. Most often in traffic, that is not the case. In fact, most people in-
volved in a crash can usually claim some responsibility for what takes place.
Consider a situation where someone decides to try to squeeze through an inter-
section on a yellow light turning red. Your light turns green. You pull into the
intersection without checking for possible latecomers. That is all it takes for the
two of you to tangle. It was the driver’s responsibility to stop. And it was your
responsibility to look before pulling out. Neither of you held up your end of the
deal. Just because someone else is the first to start the chain of events leading to
a crash, it doesn’t leave any of us free of responsibility.
As a rider you can’t be sure that other operators will see you or yield the right of
way. To lessen your chances of a crash occurring:
• Be visible—wear proper clothing, use your headlight, ride in the best lane
• Communicate your intentions—use the proper signals, brake light, and
  lane position.
• Maintain an adequate space cushion—following, being followed, lane
  sharing, passing and being passed.
• Scan your path of travel 12 seconds ahead.
• Identify and separate multiple hazards.
• Be prepared to act—remain alert and know how to carry out proper crash-
  avoidance skills.
Blame doesn’t matter when someone is injured in a crash. There is rarely a
single cause of any crash. The ability to ride aware, make critical decisions, and
carry them out separates responsible riders from all the rest. Remember, it is up
to you to keep from being the cause of, or an unprepared participant in, any

This manual cannot teach you how to control direction, speed, or balance.
That’s something you can learn only through practice. But control begins with
knowing your abilities and riding within them and the rules of the road.

Body Position
To control a motorcycle well:
• Seat—Sit far enough forward so that arms are slightly bent when you hold
  the handlegrips. Bending your arms permits you to turn the handlebars with-
  out having to stretch.
• Hands—Hold the handlegrips firmly to keep your grip over rough surfaces.
  Start with your right wrist down. This will help you keep from accidentally
  using too much throttle—especially if you need to reach for the brake sud-
  denly. Also, adjust the handlebars so your hands are even with or below your
  elbows. This permits you to use the proper muscles for precision steering.

                RIGHT                              WRONG

• Knees—Keep your knees against the gas tank to help you keep your balance
  as the motorcycle turns.
• Feet—Keep your feet firmly on the footrests to maintain balance. Don’t
  drag your feet. If your foot catches on something, you can be injured and it
  could affect your control of the motorcycle. Keep your feet near the controls
  so you can get to them fast if needed. Also, don’t let your toes point down-
  ward—they may get caught between the road and the footpegs.
• Posture—Sit so you can use your arms to steer the motorcycle rather than to
  hold yourself up.

Shifting Gears
There is more to shifting gears than simply getting the motorcycle to pick up
speed smoothly. Learning to use the gears correctly when downshifting, turn-
ing, or starting on hills is important for safe motorcycle operation.
Shift down through the gears as you slow or stop. Remain in first gear while
you are stopped so that you can move out quickly if you need to.
Make certain you are riding slowly enough when you shift into a lower gear. If
not, the motorcycle will lurch, and the rear wheel may skid. When riding down-
hill or shifting into first gear you may need to use the brakes to slow enough
before downshifting safely.
It is best to change gears before entering a turn. However, sometimes shifting
while in the turn is necessary. If so, remember to do so smoothly. A sudden
change in power to the rear wheel can cause a skid.

Your motorcycle has two brakes: one each for the front and rear wheel. Use
both of them at the same time. The front brake is more powerful and can pro-
vide as much as three-quarters of your total stopping power. The front brake is
safe to use if you use it properly. Remember:
• Use both brakes every time you slow or stop. Using only the rear brake for
  “normal” stops will not permit you to develop the habit or skill of using the
  front brake properly in an emergency. Squeeze the front brake and press
  down on the rear. Grabbing at the front brake or jamming down on the rear
  can cause the brakes to lock, resulting in control problems.
• Apply both brakes at the same time. The sooner you apply the front brake,
  the sooner it will start slowing you down.
• If you know the technique, using both brakes in a turn is possible, although it
  should be done very carefully. When leaning the motorcycle some of the
  traction is used for cornering. Less traction is available for stopping . A skid
  can occur if you apply too much brake. Also, using the front brake incorrect-
  ly on a slippery surface may be hazardous. Use caution and squeeze the
  brake lever.
• Some motorcycles have integrated braking systems that activate the front
  and rear brakes together when applying the rear brake pedal. (Consult the
  owner’s manual for detailed explanation on the operation and effective use
  of these systems.)

Riders often try to take curves or turns too fast. When they can’t hold the turn,
they end up crossing into another lane of traffic or going off the road. Or, they
overreact and brake too hard, causing a skid and loss of control. Approach
turns and curves with caution.
Use four steps for better control:       •   SLOW
                                         •   LOOK
                                         •   PRESS
                                         •   ROLL
• Slow—Reduce speed before the turn by closing the throttle and, if neces-
  sary, applying both brakes.
• Look—Look through the turn to where you want to go. Turn just your head,
  not your shoulders, and keep your eyes level with the horizon.
• Press—To turn, the motorcycle must lean. To lean the motorcycle, press on
  the handgrip in the direction of the turn. Press left—lean left—go left. Press
  right—lean right—go right. Higher speeds and/or tighter turns require the
  motorcycle to lean more.

In normal                                                        In slow tight
turns, the rider                                                 turns, counter-
and the motor-                                                   balance by lean-
cycle should                                                     ing the motor-
lean together                                                    cycle only and
at the same                                                      keeping your
angle.                                                           body straight.

                        LEAN WITH             LEAN
                       MOTORCYCLE        MOTORCYCLE ONLY

• Roll—Roll on the throttle through the turn. Maintain steady speed or accel-
  erate gradually. Avoid decelerating in the turn.

           3. When riding, you should:
              A. Turn your head and shoulders to look through turns
              B. Keep your arms straight.
              C. Keep your knees away from the gas tank.
              D. Turn just your head and eyes to look where you are

The best protection you can have is distance—a “cushion of space”—all
around your cycle. If someone else makes a mistake, distance permits you:
• Time to react.
• Space to maneuver.

Lane Positions
In some ways the size of the motorcycle can work to your advantage. Each traf-
fic lane gives a motorcycle three paths of travel, as indicated in the illustration.
Your lane position should:
• Increase your ability to see         •   Protect your lane from other drivers.
  and be seen                          •   Communicate your intentions.
• Avoid other’s blind spots.           •   Avoid wind blast from other vehicles.
• Avoid surface hazards.               •   Provide an escape route.

                                 1         2         3

Select the appropriate path to maximize your space cushion and make
yourself more easily seen by others on the road.

In general, there is no single best position for riders to be seen and to main-
tain a space cushion around the cycle. No portion of the lane need be
avoided—including the center.
The center of a lane can be oily. It collects the drippings from cars—particular-
ly at intersections. This strip is usually no more than two feet wide. The center
mini-lane is four feet wide. You can operate to the left or right of the grease
strip and still be within the center portion of the traffic lane. Unless the road is
wet, the average center strip permits adequate traction to ride on safely. Avoid
riding on big build-ups of oil and grease that are usually found at very busy
intersections or toll booths.
Ride in the portion of the lane where you are most likely to be seen. Depending
on the traffic situation, move to the portion of the lane where it will be most
difficult for other drivers to miss seeing you.

Following Another Vehicle
“Following too closely” is a major factor in crashes caused by motorcyclists.
In traffic, motorcycles need as much distance to stop as cars. Normally, a
minimum of three seconds distance should be maintained behind the vehicle
ahead. To gauge your following distance:
• Pick out a marker, such as a pavement marking or lamppost, on or near the
  road ahead.
• When the rear bumper of the vehicle ahead passes the marker, count off the
  seconds: “one-thousand-and-one, one-thousand-and-two, one-thousand-
• If you reach the marker before you reach “three,” you are following too
A three-second following distance leaves a minimum amount of space to stop
or swerve if the driver ahead stops suddenly. It also permits a better view of
potholes and other hazards in the road.
A larger cushion of space is needed if your motorcycle will take longer than
normal to stop. If pavement is slippery, if you cannot see through the vehicle
ahead, or if traffic is heavy and someone may squeeze in front of you, open up a
four-second or more following distance.
Keep well behind the vehicle ahead even when you are stopped. This will
make it easier to get out of the way if someone bears down on you from behind.
It will also give you a cushion of space if the vehicle ahead starts to back up for
some reason.

When behind a car, ride where the driver can see you in his rearview mir-
ror. Riding in the center portion of the lane should put your image in the rear-
view mirror—where a driver is most likely to see you.
Riding at the far side of a lane may permit a driver to see you in a sideview mir-
ror. But remember that most drivers don’t look at their sideview mirrors nearly
as often as they check the rearview mirror. If the traffic situation allows, the
center portion of the lane is the best place to ride when following a car.

Being Followed
Speeding up to lose someone following too closely only ends up with someone
tailgating you at a higher speed.
A better way to handle tailgaters is to get them in front of you. When someone
is following too closely, change lanes and let them pass. If you can’t do this,
slow down and open up extra space ahead of you to allow room for both you
and the tailgater to stop. This will also encourage them to pass. If they don’t
pass, you will have given yourself and the tailgater more time and space to
react in case an emergency does develop.

Passing and Being Passed
Passing and being passed by another vehicle is not much different than with a
car. However, visibility is more critical. Be sure other drivers see you, and that
you see potential hazards.

1. Ride in the left portion of the lane at a safe                    4
   following distance to increase your line of
   sight and make you more visible. Signal and
   check for oncoming traffic. Use your mir-               3
   rors and turn your head to look for traffic be-
2. Move into the left lane and accelerate. Select           2
   a lane position that doesn’t crowd the car
   you are passing and provides space to avoid                   1
   hazards in your lane.
3. Ride through the blind spot as quickly as
4. Signal again, and complete mirror and head checks before returning to your
   original lane.
Remember, passes must be completed within posted speed limits, and only
where permitted. Know your signs and road markings!

Being Passed
When you are being passed from behind or by an oncoming vehicle, move to
the center portion of your lane. Riding any closer to them could put you in a
hazardous situation. Avoid being hit by:
• The other vehicle—A slight mistake by you or the passing driver could
  cause a sideswipe.
• Extended mirrors—Some drivers forget that their mirrors hang out farther
  than their fenders.
• Objects thrown from windows—Even if the driver knows you’re there, a
  passenger may not see you and might toss something on you or the road
  ahead of you.
• Blasts of wind from larger vehicles—They can affect your control. You
  have more room for error if you are in the middle portion when hit by this
  blast than if you are on either side of the lane.

                          PASSING VEHICLES

Do not move into the portion of the lane farthest from the passing vehicle. It
might invite the other driver to cut back into your lane too early.

Lane Sharing
Cars and motorcycles need a full lane to operate safely. Lane sharing is usually
Riding between rows of stopped or moving cars in the same lane can leave you
vulnerable to the unexpected. A hand could come out of a window; a door
could open; a car could turn suddenly. Discourage lane sharing by others. Keep
a center-portion position whenever drivers might be tempted to squeeze by
you. Drivers are most tempted to do this:
• In heavy, bumper-to-bumper traffic.
• When they want to pass you.
• When you are preparing to turn at an intersection.
• When you are getting in an exit lane, or leaving a highway.

Merging Cars
Drivers on an entrance ramp
may not see you on the high-
way. Give them plenty of
room. Change to another lane
if one is open. If there is no           MERGING CARS
room for a lane change, adjust
speed to open up space for the
merging driver.

Cars Alongside
Do not ride next to cars or
trucks in other lanes if you do
not have to. Cars in the next
lane are extremely hazardous
because they block your es-
cape if you come upon danger
in your own lane. You might
be in the blind spot of a car in
the next lane, which could                           BLIND
switch into your lane without                        SPOT
warning. Speed up or drop
back to find a place clear of
traffic on both sides.

            4. Usually, a good way to handle tailgaters is to:
               A. Change lanes and let them pass.
               B. Use your horn and make obscene gestures.
               C. Speed up to put distance between you and the tail-
               D. Ignore them.

Good experienced riders remain aware of what is going on around them. They
improve their riding strategy by using SEE, a three-step process used to make
appropriate judgments and apply them correctly in different traffic situations:
• Search
• Evaluation
• Execute
Let’s examine each of these steps.

Search aggressively aggressively ahead, to the sides, and behind to avoid po-
tential hazards even before they arise. How assertively you search, and how
much time and space you have, can eliminate or reduce harm. Focus even more
on finding potential escape routes in or around intersections, shopping areas,
and school and construction zones.
Search for factors such as:
• Oncoming traffic that may turn left in front of you.
• Traffic coming from the left and right.
• Traffic approaching from behind.
• Hazardous road conditions.
Be especially alert in areas with limited visibility. Visually “busy” surround-
ings could hide you and your motorcycle from others.
Searching or scanning provides the information you need to make deci-
sions in enough time to act accordingly.

Think about how hazards can interact to create risks for you. Anticipate poten-
tial problems and have a plan to reduce risks.
• Road and surface charateristics—Potholes, guardrails, bridges, telephone
  poles, and trees won’t move into your path but may influence your riding
• Traffic control devices—Look for traffic signals, including regulatory
  signs, warning signs, and pavement markings, to help you evaluate circum-
  stances ahead.
• Vehicles and other traffic—May move into your path and increase the like-
  lihood of a crash.
Think about your time and space requirements in order to maintain a margin of
safety. You must leave yourself time to react if any emergency arises.

Carry out your decision.
To create more space and minimize harm from any hazard:
• Communicate your presence with lights and/or horn.
• Adjust your speed by accelerating, stopping, or slowing.
• Adjust your position and/or direction.
Apply the old adage “one step at a time” to handle two or more hazards. Adjust
speed to permit two hazards to separate. Then deal with them one at a time as
single hazards. Decision making becomes more complex with three or more
hazards. Weigh the consequences of each and give equal distance to the haz-
In potential high-risk areas, such as intersections, shopping areas, and school
and construction zones, cover the clutch and both brakes to reduce the time you
need to react.

SIPDE is a system of five steps that will help you apply SEE. The steps are:
• Scan or search aggressively for potential hazards.
• Identify or locate hazards and potential conflicts.
• Predict or anticipate how the hazard may affect you.
• Decide what to do to reduce the hazard.
• Execute or carry out your decision.

                5. To reduce your reaction time, you should:
                   A. Ride slower than the speed limit.
                   B. Cover the clutch and the brakes.
                   C. Shift into neutral when slowing.
                   D. Pull in the clutch when turning.

The greatest potential for conflict between you and other traffic is at intersec-
tions. An intersection can be in the middle of an urban area or at a driveway on
a residential street—anywhere traffic may cross your path of travel. Over half
of motorcycle/car crashes are caused by drivers entering a rider’s right-of-
way. Oncoming cars that turn left in front of you, and cars on side streets
that pull into your lane, are the two biggest dangers. Your use of SEE (p. 17)
at intersections is critical.

                                       There are no guarantees that others see
                                       you. Never count on “eye contact” as a
                                       sign that a driver will yield. Too often, a
                                       driver looks right at a motorcyclist and
                                       still fails to “see” him. The only eyes
                                       that you can count on are your own. If a
                                       car can enter your path, assume that it
                                       will. Good riders are always “looking
                                       for trouble”—not to get into it, but to
                                       stay out of it.
Increase your chances of being seen at intersections. Ride with your headlight
on in a lane position that provides the best view of oncoming traffic. Provide a
space cushion around the motorcycle that permits you to take evasive action.

As you approach the intersection, select a lane position to increase your vis-
ibility to the driver. Cover the clutch and both brakes to reduce reaction time.
Reduce your speed. After entering the intersection, move away from oncom-
ing vehicles preparing to turn. Do not change speed or position radically. The
driver might think that you are preparing to turn.

Blind Intersections
                                                   If you approach a blind inter-
                                                  section, move to the portion
                                                  of the lane that will bring you
                                                  into another driver’s field of
                                                  sight at the earliest possible
                                                  moment. In the picture above,
                                                  the rider has moved to the left
                                                  portion of the lane—away
                                                  from the parked car—so the
                                                  driver on the cross street can
                                                  see him as soon as possible.
                                                  Remember, the key is to see
                                                  as much as possible and re-
                                                  main visible to others while
                                                  protecting your space.

If you have a stop sign or stop line, stop there first. Then edge forward and stop
again, just short of where the cross-traffic lane meets your lane. From that posi-
tion, lean your body forward and look around buildings, parked cars, or bushes
to see if anything is coming. Just make sure your front wheel stays out of the
cross lane of travel while you’re looking.

Passing Parked Cars
When passing parked cars, stay toward the left of your lane. You can avoid
problems caused by doors opening, drivers getting out of cars, or people step-
ping from between cars. If oncoming traffic is present, it is usually best to re-
main in the center-lane position to maximize your space cushion.
A bigger problem can occur if the driver pulls away from the curb without
checking for traffic behind. Even if he does look, he may fail to see you. In ei-
ther event, the driver might cut into your path. Slow down or change lanes to
make room for someone cutting in.

                                       Cars making a sudden U-turn are the
                                      most dangerous. They may cut you off
                                      entirely, blocking the whole roadway
                                      and leaving you with no place to go.
                                      Since you can’t tell what a driver will do,
                                      get the driver’s attention. Sound your
                                      horn and continue with caution.

Parking at the Roadside
Angle your motorcycle to see in both di-
rections without straining, or having the
motorcycle in the lane of travel. When
possible, back into the parking spot at a
90 degree angle to the curb with your
rear wheel touching the curb.

           6. Making eye contact with other drivers:
              A. Is a good sign that they see you.
              B. Is important when approaching an intersection.
              C. Doesn’t mean that the driver will yield.
              D. Decreases your chances of being involved in a

In crashes with motorcyclists, drivers often say that they never saw the motor-
cycle. From ahead or behind, a motorcycle’s outline is much smaller than a
car’s. Also, it’s hard to see something you are not looking for, and most drivers
are not looking for motorcycles. More likely, they are looking through the
skinny, two-wheeled silhouette in search of cars that may pose a problem to
Even if a driver does see you coming, you aren’t necessarily safe. Smaller ve-
hicles appear farther away, and seem to be traveling slower than they actually
are. It is common for drivers to pull out in front of motorcyclists, thinking they
have plenty of time. Too often, they are wrong.
However, you can do many things to make it easier for others to recognize you
and your cycle.

Most crashes occur in broad daylight. Wear bright-colored clothing to increase
your chances of being seen. Remember, your body is half of the visible surface
area of the rider/motorcycle unit.
Bright orange, yellow or green jackets or vests are your best bets for being
seen. Your helmet can do more than protect you in a crash. Brightly colored
helmets can help others see you.
Any bright color is better than drab or dark colors. Fluorescent clothing (hel-
met and jacket or vest) is best for daytime riding.
At night reflective gear should be worn. Reflective material on the sides of the
helmet and vest will help drivers coming from the side spot you. Reflective
material can also be a big help for drivers coming toward you or from behind.

The best way to help others see your motorcycle is to keep the headlight on—at
all times. Studies show that, during the day, a motorcycle with lights on is twice
as likely to be noticed. Also, use of the high beam in daylight increases the like-
lihood that oncoming drivers will see you.

The signals on a motorcycle are similar to those on a car. However, due to a
rider’s added vulnerability, signals are even more important. They tell others
what you plan to do. Use them anytime you plan to change lanes. Use them
even when you think no one else is around. It’s the car you don’t see that’s go-
ing to give you the most trouble. Your signal lights also make you easier to
spot. That’s why it’s a good idea to use your turn signals even when what you
plan to do is obvious.

When you enter onto a freeway,
drivers approaching from behind
are more likely to see your signal
blinking and make room for you.
Turning your signal light on before
each turn reduces confusion and
frustration for the traffic around
you. Once you turn, make sure your
signal is off or a driver may pull di-
rectly into your path, thinking you
plan to turn again. Use your signals
at every turn so drivers can react ac-
cordingly. Don’t make them guess
what you intend to do.

Brake Light
Your motorcycle’s brake light is usually not as noticeable as the brake lights on
a car—particularly when your taillight is on. (It goes on with the headlight.)
Help others notice you by flashing your brake light before you slow down. It is
especially important to flash your brake light before:
• You slow more quickly than others might expect (turning off a high speed
• You slow where others may not expect it (in the middle of a block or at an
If you are being followed closely, it’s a good idea to flash your brake light be-
fore you slow. The tailgater may be watching you and not see something ahead
that will make you slow down.

Using Your Mirrors
While it’s most important to keep
track of what’s happening ahead, you
can’t afford to ignore situations be-
hind. Traffic conditions change
quickly. Knowing what’s going on be-
hind can help you make a safe deci-
sion about how to handle trouble
                                                             AREA SEEN
Frequent mirror checks should be part                        IN MIRRORS
of your normal scanning routine.
Make a special point of using your
• Before you change lanes. Make sure
  no one is about to pass you.
• When you are stopped at an intersection. Watch cars coming up from be-
  hind. If the driver isn’t paying attention, he could be on top of you before he
  sees you.
• Before you slow down. The driver behind may not expect you to slow, or may
  be unsure about where you will slow. For example, you signal a turn and the
  driver thinks you plan to turn at a distant intersection, rather than at a nearer
Most motorcycles have rounded (convex) mirrors. These provide a wider view
of the road behind than do flat mirrors. They also make cars seem farther
away than they really are. If you are not used to convex mirrors, get familiar
with them. (While you are stopped, pick out a parked car in your mirror. Form a
mental image of how far away it is. Then, turn around and look at it to see how
close you came.) Practice with your mirrors until you become a good judge of
distance. Even then, allow extra distance before you change lanes.

Head Checks
Checking your mirrors is not enough. Motorcycles have “blind spots” like cars.
Before you change lanes, turn your head, and look to the side to spot a car about
to pass you. Remember, the most important time to check traffic to the rear
is when you are changing lanes!
On a road with several lanes, check the far lane and the one next to you. A driver
in the distant lane may head for the same space you plan to take.

Be ready to use your horn to get someone’s attention quickly. It is a good idea to
give a quick beep before passing anyone that may move into your lane.
Here are some situations:
• A driver in the lane next to you is driving too close to the vehicle ahead and
  may want to pass.
• A parked car has someone in the driver’s seat.
• Someone is in the street, riding a bicycle or walking.
In an emergency, press the horn button loud and long. Be ready to stop or
swerve away from the danger.

Riding at Night
At night it is harder for you to see and be seen. Picking your headlight or tail-
light out of the car lights around you is not easy for other drivers. To compen-
sate, you should:
• Reduce Your Speed—Ride even slower than you would during the day—
  particularly on roads you don’t know well. This will increase your chances
  of avoiding a hazard.
• Increase Distance—Distances are harder to judge at night than during the
  day. Your eyes rely upon shadows and light contrasts to determine how far
  away an object is and how fast it is coming. These contrasts are missing or
  distorted under artificial lights at night. Open up a three-second following
  distance. And allow more distance to pass and be passed.
• Use the Car Ahead—The headlights of the car ahead can give you a better
  view of the road than even your high beam can. Taillights bouncing up and
  down can alert you to bumps or rough pavement.
• Use Your High Beam—Get all the light you can. Use your high beam when-
  ever you are not following or meeting a car. Wear reflective materials—
  vests, etc.
• Be Flexible About Lane Position—Change to whatever portion of the lane
  is best able to help you see, be seen, and keep an adequate space cushion.

                       7. Reflective clothing should:
                          A. Be worn during the day.
                          B. Be worn at night.
                          C. Not be worn.
                          D. Be worn day and night.

No matter how careful you are, there will be times when you find yourself in a
tight spot. Your chances of getting out safely depend on your ability to react
quickly and properly. Often, a crash occurs because a rider is not prepared or
skilled in crash-avoidance maneuvers.
Know when and how to stop or swerve, two skills critical to avoiding a crash. It
is not always desirable or possible to stop quickly to avoid an obstacle. Riders
must also be able to swerve around an obstacle. Determining the skill neces-
sary to the situation is important as well.
Studies show that most crash-involved riders:
• Underbrake the front tire and overbrake the rear.
• Do not separate braking from swerving or they do not choose swerving
  when appropriate.
The following information offers some good advice.

Quick Stops
To stop quickly, apply both brakes at the same time. Don’t be shy about us-
ing the front brake, but don’t “grab” at it, either. Squeeze the brake lever steadi-
ly and firmly. Apply the front brake fully. If the front wheel locks, release the
front brake. At the same time, press down on the rear brake. If you accidentally
lock the rear brake, keep it locked until you have completely stopped. Even
with a locked rear wheel, you can control the cycle on a straightaway if it is
upright and going in a straight line.

Always use both brakes at
the same time to stop. The
front brake can provide
70% or more of the poten-
tial stopping power.

If you must stop quickly while turning or riding a curve, it may not always be
possible to straighten the motorcycle and then stop. If you must brake while
leaning, lightly apply both brakes and reduce the throttle. As you slow, you
can reduce your lean angle and apply more brake pressure until the motorcycle
is straight and maximum brake pressure is possible. If you “straighten” the
handlebar in the last few feet of stopping, the motorcycle should be straight up
and in balance.

Swerving or Turning Quickly
Sometimes you may not have enough room to stop, even if you use both brakes
properly. An object might appear suddenly in your path. Or the car ahead might
squeal to a stop. The only way to avoid a crash may be to turn quickly, swerve,
or ride over the obstacle.
A swerve is two quick turns, one right after the first. It is performed with a
small amount of hand pressure on the handgrip in the direction you wish to go
to get the motorcycle to lean quickly. An acquired skill in making a quick
turn (swerve) is to lean quickly in the direction of the turn (swerve).
Press on the inside of the handgrip in your intended direction of escape.
Then press on the inside of the opposite handgrip to return to your original di-
rection of travel once you have cleared the hazard. To swerve to the left, push
the inside of the handgrips to the left, then push right to recover. To swerve to
the right, push right, then push left to recover. Keep your knees snugly against
the tank and your feet on the pegs. Make your escape route the target of your
Try to stay in your own lane. Change lanes only if you have enough time to
make sure there are no vehicles in the other lane. You should be able to squeeze
by most obstacles without leaving your lane.

      SWERVE, THEN BRAKE                          BRAKE, THEN SWERVE

before or after—never while swerving.

A primary cause of single-vehicle crashes is motorcyclists running wide in a
curve or turn and colliding with the roadway or a fixed object.

                                                         Every curve is different.
                                                         Be alert to whether a
                                                         curve remains constant,
                                                         gradually widens, gets
                                                         tighter, or involves mul-
                                                         tiple turns.
                                                         Ride within your skill
                                                         level and posted speed

Your best path may not always follow the curve of the road. Change lane posi-
tion depending on traffic and road conditions. If no traffic is present and your
riding abilities are up to it, you may choose to start at the outside of a curve to
increase your line of sight and the effective radius of the turn. As you turn,
move toward the inside of the curve, and as you pass the center, move to the
outside to exit.
Another alternative is to move to the center of your lane before entering a
curve—and stay there until you exit. This permits you to spot approaching traf-
fic as soon as possible. You can also adjust for traffic “crowding” the center
line, or debris blocking part of your lane.

                 8. The best way to stop quickly is to:
                    A. Use the front brake only.
                    B. Use the rear brake first.
                    C. Throttle down and use the front brake.
                    D. Use both brakes at the same time.

Your chance of falling or being involved in a crash increases whenever you
ride across:
• Uneven surfaces or obstacles.
• Slippery surfaces.
• Railroad tracks.
• Grooves and gratings.

Uneven Surfaces and Obstacles
Watch for uneven surfaces such as bumps, broken pavement, potholes, or
small pieces of highway trash.
First, determine if it is possible to go over the obstacle. Approach it at as close
to a 90° angle as possible. Look where you want to go to control your path of
travel. If you have to ride over the obstacle, you should:
• Slow down to reduce the jolt if time permits.
• Make sure the motorcycle is straight up.
• Rise slightly off the seat with your weight on the footrests to absorb the
  shock with your knees and elbows.
Rising off the seat will reduce your chances of being thrown off the bike. How-
ever, controlling the throttle can be somewhat tricky. Practice this in an area
such as an empty parking lot away from traffic.

If you ride over an object on the street, pull off the road and check your tires and
rims for damage before riding any farther.

Slippery Surfaces
Motorcycles handle better when ridden on surfaces that permit good traction.
Surfaces that provide poor traction include:
• Wet pavement, particularly just after it starts to rain and before surface oil
  washes to the side of the road.
• Gravel roads, or where sand and gravel collect.
• Mud, snow, and ice.
• Lane markings, steel plates and manhole covers, especially when wet.
To ride safely on slippery surfaces:
Reduce Speed—Slow down before you get to a slippery surface to lessen your
chances of skidding when stopping or turning. Your motorcycle needs more
distance to stop. It is particularly important to reduce speed before entering wet
Avoid Sudden Moves—Any sudden change in speed or direction can cause a
skid. Be as smooth as possible when you speed up, shift gears, turn or brake.
Use Both Brakes—The front brake is more effective even on a slippery sur-
face. Squeeze the brake lever gradually to avoid locking the front wheel.
• The center of a lane can be hazardous when wet. When it starts to rain, ride
  in the tire tracks left by cars. Often, the left tire track will be the best position,
  depending on traffic and other road conditions as well.
• Watch for oil spots when you put your foot down to stop or park. You may
  slip and fall.
• Dirt and gravel collect along the sides of the road—especially on curves and
  ramps leading to and from highways. Stay away from the edge of the road,
  particularly when making sharp turns and getting on or off freeways at high
• Rain dries and snow melts faster on some sections of a road than on others.
  Patches of ice tend to crop up in low or shaded areas and on bridges and
  overpasses. Wet surfaces or wet leaves are just as slippery. Ride on the least
  slippery portion of the lane.
Cautious riders steer clear of roads covered with ice or snow. If you can’t avoid
a slippery surface, keep your bike straight up and proceed as slowly as possible.
If you encounter a large surface so slippery that you must coast, or travel at a
walking pace, consider letting your feet skim along the surface. If the bike
starts to fall, you can catch yourself. Be sure to keep off the brakes. If possible,
squeeze the clutch and coast. Attempting this maneuver at anything other than
the slowest of speeds could prove hazardous.

Railroad Tracks, Trolley Tracks, and Pavement Seams

                                                    Usually it is safer to ride
                                                    straight within your lane to
                                                    cross tracks. Turning to
                                                    take tracks head-on can be
                                                    more dangerous—your path
                                                    may carry you into another
                                                    lane of traffic.

       THIS                NOT THIS

Move far enough away from tracks, ruts,
or pavement seams that run alongside
(parallel) to your course to cross at an
angle of at least 45°. Then, make a
quick, sharp turn. Edging across could
catch your tires and throw you off bal-

                                                  Grooves and Gratings
                                                  Riding over rain grooves or
                                                  bridge gratings will cause a
                                                  motorcycle to weave. The
                                                  uneasy, wandering feeling is
                                                  generally not hazardous. Re-
                                                  lax, maintain speed and
                                                  ride straight across. Cross-
                                                  ing at an angle forces riders to
                                                  zigzag to stay in the lane. The
                                                  zigzag is far more hazardous
       RIGHT                  WRONG               than the wandering feeling.

                9. When it starts to rain it is usually best to:
                   A. Ride in the center of the lane.
                   B. Pull off to the side until the rain stops.
                   C. Ride in the tire tracks left by cars.
                   D. Increase your speed.

You can find yourself in an emergency the moment something goes wrong
with your motorcycle. In dealing with any mechanical problem, take into ac-
count the road and traffic conditions you face. Here are some guidelines that
can help you handle mechanical problems safely.

Tire Failure
You will seldom hear a tire go flat. If the cycle starts handling differently, it
may be a tire failure. This can be dangerous. You must be able to tell from the
way the cycle reacts. If one of your tires suddenly loses air, react quickly to
keep your balance. Pull off and check the tires.
If the front tire goes flat, the steering will feel “heavy.” A front-wheel flat is
particularly hazardous because it affects your steering. You have to steer well
to keep your balance. If the rear tire goes flat, the back of the motorcycle will
jerk from side to side.
If either tire goes flat while riding:
• Hold the handlegrips firmly and keep a straight course.
• Gradually apply the brake of the tire that isn’t flat, if you are sure which one
  it is.
• When the motorcycle slows, edge to the side of the road and stop.

Stuck Throttle
Twist the throttle back and forth several times. If the throttle cable is stuck, this
may free it. If the throttle stays stuck immediately operate the engine cut-
off switch and pull in the clutch at the same time. This will remove power
from the rear wheel, though engine noise may not immediately decline. Once
the motorcycle is “under control,” pull off and stop.
After you have stopped, check the throttle cable carefully to find the source of
the trouble. Make certain the throttle works freely before you start to ride

A “wobble” occurs when the front wheel and handlebars suddenly start to
shake from side to side at any speed. Most wobbles can be traced to improp-
er loading, unsuitable accessories, or incorrect tire pressure. If you are car-
rying a heavy load, lighten it. If you can’t, shift it. Center the weight lower and
farther forward on the cycle. Make sure tire pressure, spring preload, air
shocks, and dampers are at the settings recommended for that much weight.
Make sure windshields and fairings are mounted properly.

Check for poorly adjusted steering; worn steering parts; a front wheel that is
bent, misaligned, or out of balance; loose wheel bearings or spokes; and swin-
garm bearings. If none of these are determined to be the cause, have the motor-
cycle checked out thoroughly by a qualified professional.
Trying to “accelerate out of a wobble” will only make the motorcycle more un-
stable. Instead:
• Grip the handlebars firmly, but don’t fight the wobble.
• Close the throttle gradually to slow the motorcycle. Do not apply the brakes;
  braking could make the wobble worse.
• Move your weight as far forward and down as possible.
• Pull off the road as soon as you can to fix the problem.

Chain Problems
A chain that slips or breaks while you’re riding could lock the rear wheel and
cause your motorcycle to skid. Chain slippage or breakage can be avoided by
proper maintenance.
Slippage—If the chain slips when you try to speed up quickly or ride uphill,
pull off the road. Check the chain and sprockets. Tightening the chain may
help. If the problem is a worn or stretched chain or worn or bent sprockets, re-
place the chain, the sprockets, or both before riding again.
Breakage—You’ll notice an instant loss of power to the rear wheel. Close the
throttle and brake to a stop.

Engine Seizure
When the engine “locks” or “freezes” it is usually low on oil. The engine’s
moving parts can’t move smoothly against each other, and the engine over-
heats. The first sign may be a loss of engine power or a change in the engine’s
sound. Squeeze the clutch lever to disengage the engine from the rear wheel.
Pull off the road and stop. Check the oil. If needed, oil should be added as soon
as possible or the engine will seize. When this happens, the effect is the same as
a locked rear wheel. Let the engine cool before restarting.

           10. If your motorcycle starts to wobble:
               A. Accelerate out of the wobble.
               B. Use the brakes gradually.
               C. Grip the handlebars firmly and close the
               D. Downshift.

Naturally, you should do everything you safely can to avoid hitting an animal.
If you are in traffic, however, remain in your lane. Hitting something small is
less dangerous to you than hitting something big—like a car.
Motorcycles seem to attract dogs. Downshift and approach the animal slowly.
Then speed up and leave the animal behind. Don’t kick at an animal. Keep con-
trol of your motorcycle, and look to where you want to go. For larger animals
(deer, elk, cattle) brake and prepare to stop—they are unpredictable.

From time to time riders are struck by insects, cigarettes thrown from cars, or
pebbles kicked up by the tires of the vehicle ahead. If you are wearing face
protection, it might get smeared or cracked, making it difficult to see. Without
face protection, an object could hit you in the eye, face, or mouth. Whatever
happens, keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the handlebars. When
safe, pull off the road and repair the damage.

If you need to leave the road to check the motorcycle (or just to rest for a while),
be sure you:
• Check the roadside—Make sure the surface of the roadside is firm enough
  to ride on. If it is soft grass, loose sand, or if you’re just not sure about it,
  slow way down before you turn onto it.
• Signal—Drivers behind might not expect you to slow down. Give a clear
  signal that you will be slowing down and changing direction. Check your
  mirror and make a head check before you take any action.
• Pull off the road—Get as far off the road as you can. It can be very hard to
  spot a motorcycle by the side of the road. You don’t want someone else pull-
  ing off at the same place you are.
• Park carefully—Loose and sloped shoulders make setting the stand diffi-

             11. When approaching an animal:
                 A. Kick it away.
                 B. Stop until the animal loses interest.
                 C. Swerve around the animal.
                 D. Approach the animal slowly, then speed up.

Only experienced riders should carry passengers or large loads. The extra
weight changes the way the motorcycle handles, balances, turns, speeds up,
and slows down. Before taking a passenger or heavy load on the street, practice
away from traffic.

To carry passengers safely:
• Equip and adjust your motorcycle to carry passengers.
• Instruct the passenger before you start.
• Adjust your riding technique for the added weight.
Equipment should include:
• A proper seat—large enough to hold both of you without crowding. You
  should not sit any farther forward than you usually do.
• Footrests—for the passenger. A firm footing prevents your passenger from
  falling off and pulling you off, too.
• Protective equipment—the same protective gear recommended for opera-
Adjust the suspension to handle the additional weight. Add a few pounds of
pressure to the tires if you carry a passenger. (Check your owner’s manual.)
While your passenger sits on the seat with you, adjust the mirror and headlight
according to the change in the motorcycle’s angle.

Instructing Passengers
Even if your passenger is a motorcycle rider, provide complete instructions be-
fore you start. Tell your passenger to:
•   Get on the motorcycle after you have started the engine.
•   Sit as far forward as possible without crowding you.
•   Hold firmly to your waist, hips, belt, or passenger handholds.
•   Keep both feet on the pegs, even when stopped.
•   Keep legs away from the muffler(s).
•   Stay directly behind you, leaning as you lean.
•   Avoid unnecessary talk or motion.
Also, tell your passenger to tighten his or her hold when you (1) approach sur-
face problems, (2) are about to start from a stop, and (3) warn that you are going
to make a sudden move.

Riding With Passengers
Your motorcycle will respond more slowly with a passenger on board. The
heavier your passenger, the longer it will take to slow down, speed up, or
turn—especially on a light cycle.
• Ride a little slower, especially when taking curves, corners, or bumps.
• Start slowing earlier as you approach a stop.
• Open up a larger cushion of space ahead and to the sides.
• Wait for larger gaps to cross, enter, or merge in traffic.
Warn your passenger of special conditions—when you will pull out, stop
quickly, turn sharply, or ride over a bump. Turn your head slightly to make
yourself understood, but keep your eyes on the road ahead.

Carrying Loads
Most motorcycles are not designed to carry much cargo. Small loads can be
carried safely if positioned and fastened properly.
• Keep the Load Low—Fasten loads to the seat, or put them in saddle bags.
  Piling loads against a sissybar or frame on the back of the seat raises the
  cycle’s center of gravity and disturbs its balance.
• Keep the Load Forward—Place the load over, or in front of, the rear axle.
  Tankbags keep loads forward, but use caution when loading hard or sharp
  objects. Mounting loads behind the rear axle can affect how the cycle turns
  and brakes. It can also cause a wobble.
• Distribute the Load Evenly—Load saddlebags with about the same weight.
  An uneven load can cause the motorcycle to drift to one side.
• Secure the Load—Fasten the load securely with elastic cords (bungee
  cords). A tight load won’t catch in the wheel or chain, causing it to lock up
  and skid. Rope tends to stretch and knots come loose, permitting the load to
  shift or fall.
• Check the Load—Stop and check the load every so often to make sure it has
  not worked loose or moved.

                       12. Passengers should:
                           A. Lean as you lean.
                           B. Always sit upright.
                           C. Sit as far back as possible.
                           D. Never hold onto you.

If you ride with others, do it in a way that promotes safety and doesn’t interfere
with the flow of traffic.

Keep the Group Small
Small groups make it easier and safer for car drivers who need to get around
them. A small number isn’t separated as easily by traffic or red lights. Riders
won’t always be hurrying to catch up. If your group is larger than four or five
riders, divide it up into two or more smaller groups.

Keep the Group Together
• Plan—The leader should look ahead for changes and signal early so “the
  word gets back” in plenty of time. Start lane changes early to permit every-
  one to complete the change.
• Put Beginners Up Front—Place inexperienced riders behind the leader,
  where more experienced riders can watch them.
• Follow Those Behind—Let the tailender set the pace. Use your mirrors to
  keep an eye on the person behind. If a rider falls behind, everyone should
  slow down a little to stay with the tailender.
• Know the Route—Make sure everyone knows the route. Then, if someone
  is separated they won’t have to hurry to keep from getting lost or taking a
  wrong turn.

Keep Your Distance
Maintain close ranks at a safe distance. A close group takes up less space on the
highway, is easier to see and is less likely to be separated. However, it must be
done properly.

• Don’t Pair Up—Never operate directly
  alongside another rider. There is no place
                                                                   - SECONDS-

  to go if you have to avoid a car or some-
  thing on the road. To talk, wait until you
  are both stopped.

• Staggered Formation—This is the best
  way to keep ranks close yet maintain an
  adequate space cushion. The leader rides
  in the left side of the lane, while the sec-
  ond rider stays one and one-half seconds
  behind in the right side of the lane.

A third rider maintains in the left position, three seconds behind the first rider.
The fourth rider would keep a three-second distance behind the second rider.
This formation keeps the group close and permits each rider a safe distance
from others ahead, behind, and to the sides.
• Passing in Formation—Riders in a staggered formation should pass one at
  a time.

First, the lead rider should pull                 When the first rider passes safe-
out and pass when it is safe. Af-                 ly, the second rider should
ter passing, the leader should                    move up to the left position and
return to the left position and                   watch for a safe chance to pass.
continue riding at passing                        After passing, this rider should
speed to open room for the                        return to the right position and
next rider.                                       open up room for the next rider.
Some people suggest that the leader should move to the right side after passing a
vehicle. This is not a good idea. It encourages the second rider to pass and cut
back in before there is a large enough space cushion in front of the passed ve-
hicle. It’s simpler and safer to wait until there is enough room ahead of the
passed vehicle to allow each rider to move into the same position held be-
fore the pass.
• Single-File Formation—It is best to move into a single-file formation
  when riding curves, turning, entering or leaving a highway.

              13. When riding in a group, inexperienced riders should
                  position themselves:
                  A. Behind the leader.
                  B. In front of the group.
                  C. In the middle of the group.
                  D. Beside the leader.

Riding a motorcycle is a demanding and complex task. Skilled riders pay
attention to the riding environment and to operating the motorcycle, identify-
ing potential hazards, making good judgments, and executing decisions quick-
ly and skillfully. Your ability to perform and respond to changing road and traf-
fic conditions is influenced by how fit and alert you are. Alcohol and other
drugs, more than any other factor, degrade your ability to think clearly and to
ride safely. As little as one drink can have a significant effect on your perfor-
Let’s look at the risks involved in riding after drinking or using drugs. What to
do to protect yourself and your fellow riders is also examined.

Alcohol is a major contributor to motorcycle crashes, particularly fatal
crashes. Studies show that 40% to 45% of all riders killed in motorcycle
crashes had been drinking. Only one-third of those riders had a blood alcohol
concentration above legal limits. The rest had only a few drinks in their sys-
tems—enough to impair riding skills. In the past, drug levels have been harder
to distinguish or have not been separated from drinking violations for the traf-
fic records. But riding “under the influence” of either alcohol or drugs poses
physical and legal hazards for every rider.
Drinking and drug use is as big a problem among motorcyclists as it is among
automobile drivers. Motorcyclists, however, are more likely to be killed or se-
verely injured in a crash. Injuries occur in 90% of motorcycle crashes and 33%
of automobile crashes that involve abuse of substances. On a yearly basis,
2,100 motorcyclists are killed and about 50,000 seriously injured in this same
type of crash. These statistics are too overwhelming to ignore.
By becoming knowledgeable about the effects of alcohol and other drugs you
will see that riding and substance abuse don’t mix. Take positive steps to pro-
tect yourself and prevent others from injuring themselves.

No one is immune to the effects of alcohol or drugs. Friends may brag about
their ability to hold their liquor or perform better on drugs, but alcohol or drugs
make them less able to think clearly and perform physical tasks skillfully.
Judgment and the decision-making processes needed for vehicle operation
are affected long before legal limitations are reached.
Many over-the-counter, prescription, and illegal drugs have side effects that
increase the risk of riding. It is difficult to accurately measure the involvement
of particular drugs in motorcycle crashes. But we do know what effects various
drugs have on the process involved in riding a motorcycle. We also know that
the combined effects of alcohol and other drugs are more dangerous than either
is alone.

Alcohol enters the bloodstream quickly. Unlike most foods and beverages, it
does not need to be digested. Within minutes after being consumed, it reaches
the brain and begins to affect the drinker. The major effect alcohol has is to
slow down and impair bodily functions—both mental and physical. Whatever
you do, you do less well after consuming alcohol.

Blood Alcohol Concentration
The more alcohol in your blood, the greater the degree of impairment. Your
Blood Alcohol Concentration or BAC is the amount of alcohol in relation to
other fluids in the body. Generally, alcohol can be eliminated in the body at the
rate of almost one drink per hour. But a variety of other factors may also influ-
ence the level of alcohol retained.
Three factors play a major part in determining BAC:
• The amount of alcohol you consume.
• The number of hours you have been drinking.
• Your body weight.
But other factors contribute to the way alcohol affects your system. Your sex,
physical condition, and food intake are just a few that may cause your BAC
level to be even higher. But the full effects of these are not completely known.
Alcohol may still accumulate in your body even if you are drinking at a rate
of one drink per hour. Abilities and judgment can be affected by that one

A 12-ounce can of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine, or a shot of liquor all contain
the same amount of alcohol. BAC is determined in part by how much alcohol
you have consumed.


     Drinks with
     same amount                            =                       =
     of alcohol.

                                 12 oz.             6/        oz.       5 oz.

The faster you drink, the more alcohol accumulates in your body. At most, the
body can only burn off one drink in an hour. If you drink two drinks in an hour,
at the end of that hour, at least one drink will remain in your bloodstream.
Without taking into account any of the other factors, the formula below illus-
trates the LEAST amount of drinks remaining in the bloodstream:
                    Drinks consumed - hours = drinks left
A person drinking seven drinks over a span of three hours would have at least
four (7 - 3 = 4) drinks remaining in their system at the end of the three hours.
They would then need at least another four hours to eliminate the four remain-
ing drinks before they consider riding.
There are times when a larger person may not accumulate as high a concentra-
tion of alcohol for each drink consumed. They have more blood and other bodi-
ly fluids. But because of individual differences it is better not to take the chance
that abilities and judgment have not been affected. Whether or not you are le-
gally intoxicated is not the real issue. Impairment of judgement and skills be-
gins well below the legal limit.

In North Dakota, a person with a BAC of .08%, or .02% if under 21, is consid-
ered intoxicated. It doesn’t matter how sober you may look or act. The breath
or urine test is what usually determines whether you are riding legally or ille-
Your chances of being stopped for riding under the influence of alcohol are in-
creasing. Law enforcement is being stepped up across the country in response
to the senseless deaths and injuries caused by drinking drivers and riders.
Years ago, first offenders had a good chance of getting off with a small fine and
participation in alcohol-abuse classes. Today the laws of most states impose
stiff penalties on drinking operators. And those penalties are mandatory,
meaning that judges must impose them.
If you are convicted of riding under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you may
receive any of the following penalties:
• License Suspension—Mandatory suspension for conviction, arrest, or re-
  fusal to submit to a breath test.
• Fines—Severe fines are another aspect of a conviction usually levied with a
  license suspension.
• Costs—Additional lawyer’s fees to pay; lost work time spent in court or al-
  cohol-education programs; public transportation costs (while your license
  is suspended); and the added psychological costs of being tagged a “drunk

Your ability to judge how well you are riding is affected first (judgment).
Although you may be performing more and more poorly, you think you are do-
ing better and better. The result is that you ride confidently, taking greater and
greater risks. Minimize the risks of drinking and riding by taking steps before
you drink. Control your drinking or control your riding.

Control Drinking
• DON’T DRINK—Once you start, your resistance becomes weaker.
Setting a limit or pacing yourself are poor alternatives at best. Your ability to
exercise good judgment is one of the first things affected by alcohol. Even if
you have tried to drink in moderation, you may not realize to what extent your
skills have suffered from alcohol’s fatiguing effects.

Control Riding
If you haven’t controlled your drinking, you must control your riding.
• Leave the motorcycle home—so you won’t be tempted to ride. Arrange
  another way to get home.
• Wait—If you exceed your limit, wait until your system eliminates the alco-
  hol and its fatiguing effects.
People who have had too much to drink are unable to make a responsible deci-
sion. It is up to others to step in and keep them from taking too great a risk. No
one wants to do this—it’s uncomfortable, embarrassing, and thankless. You
are rarely thanked for your efforts at the time. But the alternatives are often
There are several ways to keep friends from hurting themselves:
• Arrange a safe ride—Provide alternative ways for them to get home.
• Slow the pace of drinking—Involve them in other activities.
• Keep them there—Use any excuse to keep them from getting on their mo-
  torcycle. Serve them food and coffee to pass the time. Explain your con-
  cerns for their risks of getting arrested or hurt, or hurting someone else. Take
  their key, if you can.
• Get friends involved—Use peer pressure from a group of friends to inter-

It helps to enlist support from others when you decide to step in. The more
people on your side, the easier it is to be firm and the harder it is for the rider to
resist. While you may not be thanked at the time, you will never have to say, “If
only I had...”

            14. If you wait an hour for each drink before riding:
                A. You cannot be arrested for drinking and riding.
                B. Your riding skills will not be affected.
                C. Side effects from the drinking may still remain.
                D. You will be okay as long as you ride slowly.

Riding a motorcycle is more tiring than driving a car. On a long trip, you’ll tire
sooner than you would in a car. Avoid riding when tired. Fatigue can affect your
control of the cycle.
• Protect yourself from the elements—Wind, cold, and rain make you tire
  quickly. Dress warmly. A windshield is worth its cost if you plan to ride long
• Limit your distance—Experienced riders seldom try to ride more than about
  six hours a day.
• Take frequent rest breaks—Stop, and get off the cycle at least every two
• Don’t drink or use drugs—Artificial stimulants often result in extreme fa-
  tigue or depression when they start to wear off. Riders are unable to concen-
  trate on the task at hand.

             15. To avoid fatigue, you should ride no more than:
                 A. 2 hours a day.
                 B. 4 hours a day.
                 C. 6 hours at day.
                 D. 10 hours a day.

          -C, -D, -D. -A, -B, -C, -B, -D, -C, -C, -D, -A,
Answers: l- 2- 3- 4- 5- 6- 7- 8- 9- 10- 11- 12-
  -A, -C, -C
13- 14- 15-

Safe riding requires knowledge and skill. Licensing tests are the best measure-
ment of the skills necessary to operate safely in traffic. Assessing your own
skills is not enough. People often overestimate their own abilities. It’s even
harder for friends and relatives to be totally honest about your skills. Licensing
exams are designed to be scored more objectively.
To earn your license, you must pass a knowledge test and an on-cycle skill test.
Knowledge test questions are based on information, practices, and ideas from
this manual. They require that you know and understand road rules and safe
riding practices. An on-cycle skill test will either be conducted in an actual
traffic environment or in a controlled, off-street area.

KNOWLEDGE TEST—Sample Questions
Answers are printed at the bottom of the next page.
1. It is MOST important to flash your brake light when:
   A. Someone is following too closely.
   B. You will be slowing suddenly.
   C. There is a stop sign ahead.
   D. Your signals are not working.
2. The FRONT brake supplies how much of the potential stopping power?
   A. About one-quarter.
   B. About one-half.
   C. About three-quarters.
   D. All of the stopping power.
3. To swerve correctly:
   A. Shift your weight quickly.
   B. Turn the handlebars quickly.
   C. Push the handgrip in the direction of the turn.
   D. Push the handgrip in the opposite direction of the turn.
4. If a tire goes flat while riding, it is usually best to:
   A. Hold the handgrips firmly and keep a straight course.
   B. Shift your weight toward the good wheel and brake.
   C. Brake on the good wheel and steer to the right.
   D. Use both brakes and stop quickly.

5. The car is waiting to enter the intersec-
   tion. It is best to:
   A. Make eye contact with the driver.
   B. Reduce speed and be ready to react.
   C. Maintain speed and position.
   D. Maintain speed and move right.

Basic vehicle control and crash-avoidance skills are included in on-cycle tests
to determine your ability to handle normal and hazardous traffic situations.
North Dakota utilizes two On-Cycle Skill tests dependent upon the facilities
available at the various driver license sites. Skill tests will not be conducted
during inclement weather. Call for cancellation information.
The Field Cone Test consists of six pairs of cones placed 15 feet apart. The
cones in each pair are 3 feet apart. The rider is required to safely demonstrate a
Slow Ride, Straight Line Ride, Serpentine Ride, and a Figure Eight. Starting,
Shifting, Control, Balance, and Stopping are scored throughout each exercise.
The Alternate Most Skill Test consists of basic vehicle control and collision
avoidance exercises. Cones for the cone weave are 12 feet apart with a 2-foot
offset. See diagram for Alternate Most.
                                                  Start                Start

  Normal      Start    Start


                         -B, -C, -C, -A, -B
Knowledge Test Answers: 1- 2- 3- 4- 5-

All motorcycles, except three-wheel motorcycles, must meet the following
specification in relationship to front-wheel geometry:
         MAXIMUM: Rake: 45 degrees—Trail: 14 inches positive
          MINIMUM: Rake: 20 degrees—Trail: 2 inches positive

                                    STEERING AXIS THROUGH
                                    CENTER OF STEERING HEAD




                        R -- RAKE (ANGLE MEASURED IN DEGREES)
                        T -- TRAIL (MEASURED IN INCHES)

Manufacturer’s specifications must include the specific rake and trail for each
motorcycle or class of motorcycles.
Handlebars must provide proper leverage for steering, and capable of with-
standing a minimum force of 100 pounds applied to each handgrip in any di-
rection. Handlebar grips may not be located above the shoulder height of the
seated operator and must be capable of vertical adjustment. The handlebars
must provide a minimum of 18 inches between grip after final assembly.
Handlebars must be equipped with handgrips consisting of a material and sur-
face pattern to ensure firm, nonslip gripping for the operator.
Every motorcycle must be equipped with a suspension system and such sus-
pension system must be applicable to at least the front wheel. The suspension
system must be effective in reducing road shock and designed for the purpose
of maximizing vehicle stability.

Fuel System
All fuel system components, including the tank, pump, tubing, hoses, clamps,
etc., must be securely fastened to the motorcycle so as not to interfere with ve-
hicle operation and be leakproof when the vehicle is in its normal operating

Fuel lines must be positioned in a manner to prevent their contact with the en-
gine head, manifold, exhaust system, or other high temperature surfaces, or
moving components. The fuel system must be adequately vented and provided
with a fuel shut-off valve located between the fuel supply and the engine.

Exhaust System
Motorcycles must be equipped with an exhaust system incorporating a muffler
or other mechanical device for the purpose of effectively reducing engine
noise. All motorcycles used for street and highway travel must not exceed the
noise decibel limitations established by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Cutouts and bypasses in the exhaust system are prohibited. The system must be
leak-proof and all components must be securely attached to the vehicle and lo-
cated so as not to interfere with the operation of the motorcycle. Shielding must
be provided to prevent inadvertent contact with the exhaust system by the op-
erator or passenger during normal operations.

Every motorcycle must be equipped with at least one mirror of unit magnifica-
tion, securely affixed to the handlebar and capable of adjustment. Such mirror
must consist of a minimum reflective surface of 10 square inches. All mirrors
must not contain sharp edges or projections capable of producing injury.

Each wheel of a motorcycle must be equipped with fenders or otherwise cov-
ered by the body configuration. Fenders must be securely mounted and of suf-
ficient size and strength to minimize water or other road surface substances
from coming in contact with the vehicle riders, or throwing the road substances
unreasonably to the rear of the vehicle. Fender design must be effective in re-
ducing side spray.

Seat or Saddle
A seat or saddle securely attached to the vehicle must be provided for the use of
the operator. The seat or saddle must not be less than 25 inches above a level
road surface when measured to the lowest point on top of the seat or saddle
cushion with the operator seated in a driving position. The seat or saddle ad-
justment locking device must prevent relative movement of the seat from its
selected and secured position under all normal vehicle operating conditions.

Chain Guard
Any drive chain on a motorcycle must be equipped with a chain guard or cov-
ering device to prevent chain or chain sprocket contact with any rider.

Vehicle Stand
All motorcycles designed with two wheels must be equipped with a retracting
vehicle stand to permit the vehicle to remain in an upright stored position with-
out outside assistance. The stand may be of a side or center type, and must be of
substantial construction to hold the vehicle so equipped.

When equipped, all motorcycle windscreen and windshields must meet the
following standards:
1. The glazing materials must comply with the standards adopted by rule of the
2. The metal support must be of a material which bends rather than fragments
   under impact.
3. Covering material, other than glazing, must be beaded at the edges to pre-
   vent fraying.

Every motorcycle must be equipped with an operative horn in good working
order as described by subsection 1 of section 39-21-36 NDCC. The horn must
operate from a control device located on the left handlebar.
         39-21-36. Horn and warning device—1. While being oper-
         ated upon a highway, every motor vehicle must be equipped
         with a horn in good working order and capable of emitting
         sound audible under normal conditions from a distance of
         not less than 200 feet, but no horn or other warning device
         may emit an unreasonably loud or harsh sound or a whistle.
         Whenever reasonably necessary for safe operation, the driv-
         er of a motor vehicle upon a highway shall give audible
         warning with the vehicle’s horn, but may not otherwise use
         the vehicle’s horn while upon a highway.
         2. No vehicle may be equipped with nor may any person use
         upon a vehicle any siren, whistle, or bell, except as otherwise
         permitted in this section.

Speedometer and Odometer
Every motorcycle must be equipped with a properly operating speedometer
and odometer calibrated in miles per hour and miles respectively and must be
fully illuminated when the headlamp is activated.

Lighting Equipment
Every motorcycle must be equipped with lamps, reflective devices, and asso-
ciated equipment as required by and in compliance with standards adopted by
rule of the director. A gearbox indicator light, if provided, must be located
within the operator’s field of vision. A headlamp beam indicator light must be
located within the operator’s field of vision and illuminated automatically
when the high beam of the headlamp is actuated.

Passenger Seat
Motorcyles designed to carry more than one person must be equipped with a
securely mounted seat for each passenger located to the side or rear of the driv-
er such that the passenger seat does not interfere with the driver’s control or
operation of the vehicle. In the case of a two-wheel vehicle, that passenger seat
must be located on the longitudinal centerline of the motorcycle.

Frame-Chassis Requirements
The motorcycle frame-chassis, including the suspension components and en-
gine mountings, must be of substantial construction, capable of supporting the
combined weight of all vehicle components and riders for which the vehicle is
designed, and withstand normal road shocks and operational stresses without
constituting a hazard to the riders or other users of the highway. The wheel base
may not be less than 40 inches. (Wheel base is measured from the center or axle
of the front wheel to the center or axle of the rear wheel.)

Every motorcycle must have either a split service brake system or two inde-
pendently actuated service brake systems in accordance with rules adopted by
the director. Brakes must act on the front and rear wheels.

All linkage, cables, pivots, and bearings must be free of excess (high) friction,
with the front wheel brake cable so located and secured as not to become
pinched between fork and frame members when the wheel is turned complete-
ly to the right or left.
Brake actuating devices must be in an accessible location, unencumbered by
vehicle components, and so positioned that adequate leverage and safe opera-
tion are ensured. A suitable mechanism must be provided for the purpose of
automatically returning the actuating devices to normal position upon release.
Motorcycle brakes must be capable of being adjusted automatically or manu-
ally with means provided to prevent unintentional adjustment. Each three-
wheel motorcycle must be equipped with a parking brake of a friction type
with a solely mechanical means to retain engagement.

Tires, Wheels, and Rim
Motorcycle tires must not be less than 2 and 25/100 inches in width and de-
signed for highway use. Wheel rim diameters may not be less than 10 inches
and must otherwise comply with applicable state standards, as promulgated by
the director. Two-wheel motorcycles using low pressure tires are exempt from
the above requirements if the inflated height of the tire is 20 inches or greater.

Footrests must be provided for each designated seating position. Each footrest
for a passenger must be so designed and constructed to support a static weight
of 250 pounds applied at the center of the foot pedal. Footrests must be so lo-
cated to provide reasonable accessibility for the passenger’s feet. Footrests
must fold rearward or upward when not in use if the footrest protrudes beyond
the width of the handlebars.

Highway Bars
If a motorcycle is so equipped, highway bars must have a maximum width of
26 inches; must be located less than 15 inches from the foot controls; and may
not interfere with the operation of the foot controls.

Protective Helmet Requirements
North Dakota law requires that an approved helmet be worn by anyone under
the age of 18. If the operator of a motorcycle is required to wear a helmet, any
passenger would also be required to wear a helmet regardless of the age of the
passenger. No person shall operate a motorcycle if a person under the age of 18
years is a passenger upon that motorcycle and is not wearing a helmet as pro-
vided by law. Likewise, an approved helmet is required for all persons less than
18 years of age when operating a motorized bicycle.

Signal Requirements
Motorcycle operators must signal their intention to turn with either electrical
turn signals or by use of the standard hand signals. Signals must be given con-
tinuously during the last 100 feet before the turn.

All the basic rules of the road found in the Class D North Dakota Driver’s
Guide apply to motorcycles as well as other vehicles.

Additional Laws:
• You can carry a passenger only if your motorcycle is designed to carry more
  than one person.
• Both the driver and the passenger must sit with one leg on each side of the
• You cannot carry a passenger or bundle if it prevents you from keeping both
  hands on the handlebars.
• The operator of a motorcycle must not operate a motorcycle between lanes
  of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.
• The operator of a motorcycle is not permitted to pass in the same lane occu-
  pied by the vehicle being overtaken.
• Riders of motorcycles cannot attach themselves to any other vehicle on a
• All motorcycles must be equipped with footrests for their passengers.

Motorcycles are inexpensive to operate, fun to ride, and easy to park. Unfortu-
nately, many riders never learn the critical skills needed to ride safely.
Professional training for beginning and experienced riders prepares them for
real-world traffic situations. MSF Motorcycle RiderCoursesSM teach and im-
prove such skills as:
      • Effective turning.                      • Obstacle avoidance.
      • Braking maneuver.                       • Traffic strategies.
      • Protective apparel selection.           • Maintenance.

         For the beginning or experienced Ridercourse
                   nearest you, call toll free:
                         (800) 726-4094

The Motorcycle Safe-                                        compiled from pub-
ty Foundation’s pur-                                        lications, interviews
pose is improving the                                       and observations of
safety of motorcy-                                          individuals and or-
clists on the nation’s                                      ganizations familiar
streets and highways. In an attempt to    with the use of motorcycles, accesso-
reduce motorcycle crashes and inju-       ries, and training. Because there are
ries, the Foundation has programs in      many differences in product design,
rider education, licensing improve-       riding styles, Federal, State and local
ment, public information and statis-      laws, there may be organizations and
tics. These programs are designed for     individuals who hold differing opin-
both motorcyclists and motorists. A       ions. Consult your local regulatory
national, non-profit organization ,       agencies for information concerning
MSF is sponsored by five U.S. motor-      the operation of motorcycles in your
cycle distributors: Honda, Yamaha,        area. Although the Motorcycle Safety
Kawasaki, Suzuki and BMW.                 Foundation will continue to research,
                                          field test, and publish responsible
The information contained in this         viewpoints on the subject, it disclaims
publication is offered for the benefit    any liability for the views expressed
of those who have an interest in riding   herein.
motorcycles. The information has been

                      2 Jenner Street, Suite 150
                        Irvine, CA 92618-3806

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